What do we really want from retirement?


MoneyPlus Features Team

18th September 2015 at 2:32pm

How would you feel about spending retirement in a Boeing 727 aircraft fuselage?

For one intrepid retiree this is exactly how he’s planned out life’s second act. Bruce Campbell, a retired electrical engineer, has chosen retirement as the chance to set up home in an old plane in some backwoods near Portland, Oregon.

Or how would you feel about hitting the surf and boogie boarding in your seventies?

For another plucky pensioner it’s a life riding the oceans waves that’s been his retirement calling. William, a winner in a recent competition we ran in mature times asking people to show us what they are getting up to in retirement, likes nothing more than donning the wet suit and wading into the surf.

So what does retirement mean to you?

Today it’s true to say it means many things to different people – it’s not a case of one size fits all.

The beauty of retired life is that we have the ability to customize our retirement lifestyle. But what makes us individually happy can vary, influenced by widely differing tastes, unique passions and our own personal fears.

For some it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to travel far and wide, while others take up or spend more time on a hobby or start the business they always dreamed of. Many simply want to spend more time with family and friends.

We’ve been finding out how people feel about their retirement. What are their hopes for the future and how have those who’ve recently retired found the change of moving on from work into retirement?

What people have been saying confirms that retirement really can be one of the most liberating and exciting life stages. In retirement, they’re busy living their post-work lives to the full in a whirl of socialising, fitness classes and travel that could give 20-somethings a run for their money.

They just don’t feel they fit the image of what a stereotypical pensioner ‘looks’ like.

In the first year of retirement, putting their feet up and relaxing is not what they have in mind. The most popular activities people take up are:

• Planning more holidays and travelling (58%)

• Spending more quality time doing things with family and friends (48%)

• Doing more exercise and sport (23%)

• Doing voluntary work (23%)

• Starting a new hobby (22%).

These findings have also been backed up by a poll run by YouGov of almost 2000 working-age adults who haven’t yet retired. When asked to select five activities they’d most like to do during retirement, a ‘grey gap year’ of travelling and holidays ranked number one, with taking up new hobbies and dining out regularly helping make up the top five.

Freedom of choice

It’s little surprise that enjoying a busy lifestyle later in life doesn’t always come cheap and planning ahead couldn’t be more important when it comes to having enough to live the life we want in retirement.

The good news is most of those who’ve retired don’t have to rely on the state pension alone and many say they are comfortable with their financial situation as they enter retirement.

The new pension freedoms have opened up a world of new possibilities for those who now have the choice to take pension money from the age of 55 but to get the most out of the changes, it’s important to plan ahead. These new freedoms provide a good opportunity for people to really think about their finances and the options available to them.

Many companies (including us) now provide a range of online tools and guides to help you prepare so you can approach – and live – your retirement with confidence. These tools can help you understand what you might need to give you the retirement you’ve always hoped for.

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The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice. A personal pension is an investment and its value can go up or down and may be worth less than you paid in.